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H5N1 in Wild Birds in Poland

Recombinomics Commentary
December 11, 2007

A stork and two harriers have died from bird flu in north-eastern Poland, after the discovery in recent days of four outbreaks in the center of the country, announced Tuesday the local veterinary authorities .

The three birds of the H5N1 virus, potentially dangerous to humans, were in captivity, in a "rehabilitation center" for Orneta wild birds in the region of Mazuria, said Ludwik Bartoszewicz, chief veterinarian in the region.

This information has been disseminated in the aftermath of the discovery of a fourth outbreak of bird flu in a flock of chickens in central Poland.

The discovery of H5N1 in wild birds in Poland is not a surprise.  The outbreaks in wild birds in Germany, France, and the Czech Republic over the summer signaled the presence of endemic H5N1 in the wild bird population in Europe.  The outbreaks over the summer were followed by a poultry outbreak in Krasnodar in September.  In association with this outbreak was the detection of the identical HA sequence in a whooper swan.  DEFRA reports indicate the H5N1 in England was also closely related to these sequences.  The sequences from H5N1 form the two birds in Krasnodar, as well as three wild bird outbreaks in Germany have now been made public.  All of these sequences link back to the massive wild bird outbreak at Uva Lake in Mongolia.

The Uva Lake strain has now become dominant in Europe and will likely be related to recent outbreaks in Romania, multiple locations in  Poland, (see satellite map) and most recently to the poultry outbreak in the Rostov region in Russian, which is adjacent to Krasnodar.

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